Friday, 06 July 2018

Establishment Conservatives Now Hoping for Democratic Takeover in November

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It’s no secret that, for the better part of the century, the United States of America has been a one-party country masquerading as bipartisan. The dominant faction in our homegrown “court party” has long been the Democratic Party, whose business it has been to be the primary mover and shaker on behalf of bigger, more powerful, and more centralized government, with the Republican Party establishment playing the role of the reluctant resistor and cowed compromiser.

Thus it has been for more than a hundred years that American involvement in almost every major war has been initiated and presided over by Democratic presidents — Wilson in World War I, FDR and Truman in World War II, Truman in Korea, and Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam. It has also been Democratic presidents who have instituted every major welfare federal program: FDR and his New Deal, LBJ and his Great Society, and of course ObamaCare. During most of this period, Republicans have dutifully played the role of the heroic but outmatched resistance, with GOP leadership urging the rank and file to quietly acquiesce to the ambitions of so-called liberals and progressives, most of whom have found a home in the Democratic Party. In recent years, of course, liberal Republicans such as both presidents Bush and Senator John McCain have become proponents of the welfare/warfare state almost as ardent as their Democratic colleagues.

None of this is accidental. As historian and chronicler of the American establishment Carroll Quigley once observed, regarding Republicans and Democrats:

The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies ... is a foolish idea. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.

In recent years, however, the GOP has become polarized, with those the press like to style “moderate Republicans” (i.e., the party establishment) becoming increasingly unable to rein in the influence of a growing number of genuine contitutionalists and Americanists within the House and Senate. What began with the principled “caucus of one” embodied by former Texas Congressman and sometime presidential candidate Ron Paul, has, with the help of the Tea Party movement, blossomed into a genuine Americanist faction on Capitol Hill — a faction that, with the election of Donald Trump, now has a sympathetic ear at the White House.

For some in the GOP establishment, the Trump presidency has proven the final straw. In the ranks of the media and academic establishment, so-called conservatives and neocons are not only leaving the Republican Party, some are now openly supporting the Democratic Party in this fall’s elections.

Case in point: Max Boot, a prominent columnist with the Washington Post and CNN analyst. Characterizing the GOP as "a white-nationalist party with a conservative fringe” and “the party of the child-snatchers,” Boot hopes the Democrats will take over the House and the Senate in November’s elections because “like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.” This type of rhetoric — comparing the GOP rank and file with Nazis and Fascists and characterizing them as white nationalists and child-snatchers — is eerily reminiscent of the hysteria-mongering usually served up by the so-called Left.

It bears mentioning that Boot’s establishment credentials are impeccable. As a longtime fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the core of the American establishment, Boot’s views have always been in lockstep with the conservative wing of the court party, for which the notion of “America first” has long been anathema.

Nor is Boot alone among neocon Never-Trumpers. Syndicated columnist George Will, who left the GOP after the election of Trump, is also agitating for a Democratic congressional takeover, opining:

In today's GOP, which is the president's plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party's cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him. A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate's machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House.

Another former Republican, MSNBC commentator and onetime congressman Joe Scarborough (also a current member of the Council on Foreign Relations), has set the standard for anti-Trump animus. His colleague at MSNBC, former GOP congressman and McCain presidential campaign chair Steve Schmidt, is yet another fiery Trump detractor rooting for the Dems. In a recent interview, the Washington Post summarized Schmidt’s views as follows:

In a two-party system, he sees the Democrats as the lone hope to prevent an ultimate unraveling of democratic norms. “The Democratic Party is called to be the sentinel of American democracy and liberty,” he said. “It is beyond bone-chilling to consider what happens if that party fails in that task, in that duty.”

The rise of Americanism is forcing the liberal establishment lurking inside the GOP to display its real plumage. Whether the establishment can regain control of the Republican Party — or, barring that, consign it to electoral irrelevancy in this fall’s elections — will be the tale of this year’s and many election cycles yet to come. By all indications, the slumbering American public is finally awakening to the deceptive reality of modern American partisan politics.

Image of George Will: Screenshot of a youtube video by MSNBC

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